The Talyllyn Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Talyllyn) is a preserved narrow gauge railway line in Tywyn, Wales. Originally starting off as a line to bring down slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn, the Talyllyn Railway has evolved into a tourist attraction, seeing dozens of visitors each year.
The railway served as the inspiration for the Skarloey Railway in the Railway Series. A few of the locomotives as well as the railway itself have made appearances in the books, and the line hosts special events that see the locomotives running as their fictional counterparts.
The Awdry Connection
The Talyllyn Railway has become well known for being the inspiration of the Skarloey Railway featured in the Rev. W. Awdry's Railway Series. Awdry visited the line on a family holiday and became a volunteer soon afterwards, working as a guard. Several of the stories he wrote about the Skarloey Railway were based on incidents he experienced at the Talyllyn, and a few of the line's locomotives have made appearances in the books. Christopher, his wife Diana, and their son Richard were also volunteers.
In 1983, the Talyllyn Railway painted their No. 3, "Sir Haydn", in the guise of Sir Handel as an attraction for younger visitors. Christopher Awdry wrote this into Great Little Engines, explaining that the railway had "borrowed" Sir Handel for a short time. This became so popular that Sir Haydn remained dresed up until the end of the 1984 season. There was, however, some complaints from members of the Society, who disagreed with dressing up a historic engine as a fictional character. Four years later, it was decided to repeat the event, with the Railway "borrowing" Peter Sam.
"Peter Sam" ran smoothly on the Talyllyn until 1991, when The Britt Allcroft Company began organizing formal Friends of Thomas the Tank Engine events. Up until that point, heritage railways had only paid a token fee of £1 to the Thomas copyright holder to run events. Under these terms, railways would have to pay a fee of £100 for a licence plus a percentage of all profits earned from events. While most railways managed to come to agreement with Britt Allcroft in August 1991, the Talyllyn argued that as the inspiration for the Skarloey Railway, along with having received the permission of The Rev. W. Awdry himself, the agreement did not apply to them, and eventually came to a separate agreement with Reed Books, holder of the Thomas copyright, in 1993.
The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, located at Tywyn Wharf station, also hosts a display of Awdry's study, which was added in tribute of him following renovations in 2005. The display features many of Awdry's old belongings, such as his desk, typewriter and hundreds of books, and several of his models and his Ffarquhar layout can also be found here.
The Talyllyn Railway owns eleven locomotives, six steam and five diesel. Talyllyn, Dolgoch and Douglas have made appearances in the Railway Series, though the rest of the engines have made no appearances. This section only documents the locomotives with Skarloey Railway counterparts.
|Originally built as an 0-4-0ST with no cab. The locomotive is named after the railway itself.|
|Originally built without a cab. The locomotive is named after the intermediate station and local waterfalls.|
|Ex-Corris Railway locomotive bought in 1951. The locomotive is named after Sir Haydn Jones, owner of the railway prior to preservation.|
|Ex-Corris Railway locomotive bought in 1951. The locomotive is named after the former manager of the railway. It was fitted with a Giesl ejector between 1958 and 1969.|
|Ruston & Hornsby diesel locomotive purchased in 1957 from Jee's quarries at Hartshill. It was named after the Midlands area group of the preservation society that donated the locomotive.|
|Former RAF Calshot locomotive donated to the Talyllyn Railway in 1953 and regauged from 2ft to 2'3". It is named after Douglas Abelson, who donated the locomotive.|
|Built from a Bord na Móna (Irish Peat Board) Andrew Barclay locomotive. It is named after L.C.T. Rolt, one of the founders of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society.|
|Ex-National Coal Board diesel locomotive from Huncoat colliery in Lancashire. It was named after Alf Robens, chairman of the National Coal Board.|
|Small trolley used by engineers for transportation to worksites. Built from a second hand Austin 7 engine and gearbox, mounted on a custom-made chassis. It is named after Toby the Tram Engine.|
- In 2012, the animation crew of Nitrogen Studios went to the Talyllyn Railway to measure the engines for the CG models of their Skarloey Railway counterparts to match them. Unfortunately, Douglas was being overhauled during that time, meaning that Duncan's Arc Productions-made render was inaccurate since his return in Series 18.